Saturday, December 31, 2016

Top Ten 2016 - A Review

A couple of people at work asked me if I had written a post on my top reads of 2016. And I said " but now that you say that I remember that I probably should!" (This has not been a super on top of it year for the blog, none of you need to be reminded of that).

So, here are my 10 favorite reads of 2016 in no particular order:


Because sometimes "WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON?" is a really fun place to be with a book.


Finally got around to reading this with blogger friend Jamie for her Quarterly Classics Club. So good. Not a dry, crusty, old, theological trial like some people might think. Find a good translation and pick this up!


Not just a pretty face. These classic fairy tales with a twist are perfect for new generations of (particularly female) readers. But that cover! Swoon!


Oh Mary Roach how I love you. Pick this up and learn so so much. And then donate money to a reputable charity that helps this nation's veterans. (You also learn about penis transplants which was ffaaaaaaaascinating).


Magical realism set in Krakow during WWII? Of course I loved this book. Scary and tense and funny and an inconclusive ending all makes this a compelling read.


This book scared the life out of me. And then my mom read it and it scared the life out of her! But it wasn't just scary it was creative and imaginative and the details were so on point.


I read this book after watching the author's TED talk. And after reading this book I put all of his other books on my TBR. Also a candidate for best cover of the year!


You guys know nothing trips my trigger quite like a great historical graphic novel. And this was a great one. All the cloak and dagger madness of the Manhattan Project kept me flipping through these pages at the speed of a blooming mushroom cloud! (Slightly inappropriate, mea culpa)


I honestly don't know how many other people would like this book as much as me but the seedy under belly of the dog breeding and showing world was a little gossipy and really informative, just how I like my nonfiction!


We'll end on another dog book. The story of how incredibly brave humans and their dogs saved countless lives in Alaska during a diphtheria outbreak had me with a lump in my throat and fighting the urge to stand up and cheer all at once.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Book Review: "Brilliance" by Marcus Sakey

My coworker Megan and I often talk about books, and she was telling me about this series that she had gotten for a really good deal for her Kindle. The more she talked about it the more I'm like yeaaaah, that sounds like a book I need to read. And my TBR grew three books that day.

So in the world of this book there are a small minority of people who are born with special abilities. Some of them are kind of the savant variety (I'm going to name a place and you will automatically know the address because you memorized the phone book) and some are more intuitive. Our main character, Nick, is able to really read people's body language and anticipate what they are going to do. Helpful in a fight, which he gets into a lot. So, since the government is always scared of what's different, all of these people with abilities are closely monitored and if you are "tier one" (especially gifted, or in the perspective of the government really potentially dangerous) you are placed into "academys" where you are basically brainwashed and then the government uses your unique ability to work for them. Everyone take a moment here to be shocked that that's how the government would work. No one shocked? Yeah, me either.

So Nick is an interesting main character because he is one of the gifted ones AND he works for one of the government organizations. He hunts down dangerous people who are affiliated with radical organizations and neutralizes them.
As is so often the case, not everything is as it seems and Nick finds himself seeing things from a different perspective and it's all manhunts and gun fights and all of the other things that come with a great thriller.

Two things that caught my interest in this book:

-After reading so many more YA geared dystopia/sci fi stuff this one has a couple decidedly more R rated moments. Which is not to say that there's like, big graphic sex scenes but it's written for a little older crowd and it's kinda nice. Someone gets thrown from a car and it's kinda badass.

-I want a WHOLE other book about a character named Samantha who is really only in one short piece of the book but I'm like THIS CHICK. I WANT MORE ABOUT THIS CHICK. She sounds like an interesting, sad lady.

So, since it's a trilogy I will be heading to the library to find the next installment! I give it a 3.5 of of 5. Excited to see what comes next!



Monday, December 19, 2016

Book Review: "The Age of Miracles" by Karen Thompson Walker

My library didn't have this categorized as a YA book, and it really should have been. Nothing against YA books, I know several adults read them and think they are great, but with a few exceptions they aren't something that I find myself reading regularly. The main character is a 12 year old and I couldn't help thinking that I would like this storyline better if the character was a little bit older. Anyway, probably not great book blogger form to start with a criticism so let's back it up and talk about the plot.

Something has happened (no one knows what exactly) and now the earth is spinning slower and it's having a lot of repercussions. Like time is added on in an inconsistent way so there's sometimes where the sun doesn't go down for 36 hours or longer. There's weird magnetic field stuff. Gravity is effected, like birds can barely fly; everything becomes heavier (if that makes sense). In the middle of all of the end of the world feeling type of stuff Julia is a 12 year old only child with parents who have a strained marriage and is going through all of that awful stuff that 12 year olds go through.

I would have like this book more if it did a little more world building. I know that Julia is the main character and we're supposed to be the most interested in her; but I would have been more interested in hearing what was happening around the world and how people were dealing with the changes as opposed to her interactions at the bus stop with her crush.I wanted a wider lens.

If you have a yound reader in your life who might have an interest in a book that's a little more dystopian but not as dark as an Divergent or Hunger Games this might be a good place to start. There's not much violence, no sex, (I think) no swearing. So all in all, not a book for me, but not a bad book per se. 

2.8 stars out of 5!


Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Book review: "Accidental Saints: Finding God in All the Wrong People" by Nadia Bolz-Weber

Before we start, this author had a previous book named "Pastrix" which probably would have been a little helpful to have read before this book but is by no means a prerequisite. She kind of recounts enough that you get the idea that she had a really conservative upbringing, took a hard hard hard turn into drugs and alcohol and then found her way out and into the ministry. So she pastors a church in Denver full of "accidental saints". People who society would kind of shun or think are weird or look down on or exclude or who have had a lot of issues with organized religion in the past and are just looking to have a toe dipping in kind of experience to see if there's room for them.

I selected this book from Blogging for Books because I had heard vaguely about it and the selection from which to pick from for Blogging for Books is getting a little bit stale. I was a little weary going into it because being a religious person I'm always side eyeing a lot of the hot, trendy religious books for several reasons but in the spirit of being less of a snob and being open to new things I found myself with this book. While I don't agree with all of her views I really appreciate her dedication to her people and prayer and being a good pastor for her flock.

Ready for some out of context quotes? Becuase that's a-comin your way:

She has a parishoner who says she's having a crisis of faith. She goes and talks to her and help her out. Turns out the parishoner is in a crisis because "she thinks she believes in Jesus". Nadia laughs and says "So sorry, but sometimes Jesus just hunts your ass down and there's nothing you can do about it". Which made me laugh because CS Lewis said something (kinda) similiar when he came to Christianity, saying that he was "the most dejected, reluctant convert in all of England". 

Some of the people in Nadia's flock have substance abuse problems. She talks about one named Candy. And how God loves Candy NOW. Even as she is dirty and sick and confused. He doesn't start loving us once we start making good choices, or a hold a job for 3 months or make sure all the bills get paif on time. He loves us NOW. Even if we are the conducter of the Hot Mess Express.

Here's another quote I thought was intersting: "It's weird, but all of the characters in the Gospels who encounter Jesus, the ones who most reliably know who he is are not the religious authorities or even Jesus' own disciples. They are the demons. The demons always recognize Jesus' authority. And the demons are afraid". Which, when you think about the biblical stories of Jesus interacting with demons this is TOTALLY true. And I just think that's fascinating for some reason.

That's probably enough out of context quotes. But I'll end with saying my favorite thing about this book was her honesty, and I love the very sacred feeling that a lot of her church's rituals had. What I didn't like - why does everyone who does Crossfit have to talk about it SO MUCH ALL THE TIME? Why?

Anyway, 4 stars out of 5.

This book was provided for me in exchange for a fair review from Blogging for Books

Monday, December 5, 2016

Mon. | Dec. 5 – This Is How We Read #AMonthofFaves2016

Mon. | Dec. 5 – This Is How We Read #AMonthofFaves2016 – eg. Number of books read so far, genre you read the most from, picture of favorite (or most often used) reading location, most read author, % eBooks, hardcovers, paperbacks and/or audiobooks, hint at what your favorite read of the year is (let us guess), types of books you wish you read more of, month you read the most and least)

You guys. I'm legitimate scared I'm not going to hit 100 books read in 2016. For a little perspective - in 2014 I read 239 books, in 2015 I read 150 books, and this year....95. I have a couple of weeks to squeeze in 5 more. I can do it..... A more time consuming job with a shorter lunch break, a house, and a dog...that's what I'm going to blame.

Best short story collections I read this year: 




Best Graphic Novels I read all year:



Book that I've read that now both my parents are reading:


Book that I was wary of but then ended up loving on:


Book I knew I was going to love that Totes Ma Goats lived up to the hype:


Book that scared the shit out me, but I loved:


Book that confused that shit out of me, but I loved:


Best Classic that I read this year:


Books I liked the least that I read this year:

So much wasted potential. Uggggggh.
I know a ton of people who LOVED this book but it just didn't catch for me.

No. Just no. Hating this book got me ostracized from my book club momentarily.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Book Review: "Walking on Water: Reflections on Faith and Art" by Magelin L'Engle

I remember making a New Year's Reading Resolution recently that I was going to read more of Miss L'Engle's writings. I had recently reread "A Wrinkle in Time" which I think is one of those books that you read as a kid, and then re-read as an adult and you appreciate a lot more about it. Or at least different things.

This is a hard book to categorize. Though really it says it all in the subtitle "reflection on faith and art". She talks about both of those things both separate and together.

I think it's interesting that she found herself chaffing when she was referred to as a "Christian" author. It's not that it wasn't untrue (she is a Christian, and she is an author) but it pigeon holes you. Like how people would be shocked to know that Roald Dahl also wrote books for adults. I think there are plenty of people who were not Christians who read WIT and enjoyed it.

Kind of attached to that she talks a lot about choice. 

She talks a lot about how being open to things is great for art.

 Honestly, I'm having a hard time reviewing this book and there were so many great quotes but they will make no sense out of context. So I will just say this.

 I found this book thoughtful and lovely, with a great flow to the chapters. It was just a nice, reassuring, interesting, calming read and I'm so glad that I picked it up. I think that she has a lot to offer people (artists, authors, or noncreative folks alike) and that many people will find this book to be just a cozy kind of soothing read.

4 out of 5 stars!

This book was sent to me free of charge from Blogging for Books in exchange for an honest review

Friday, November 11, 2016

SciFi November Bingo Card!

I should have put this out right at the beginning of SciFi November, but if you want a laugh maybe fill these out while you read this Novemeber or whenever you find yourself reading SciFi/Fantasy!

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Ray Bradbury's "Halloween Tree" in Disneyland (The actual tree! Well, kinda.)

(This is probably a stretch for Sci-Fi November. Maybe it's more fantasy. But I think that counts)

So, there is a Ray Bradbury book that I love called The Halloween Tree. It's about this group of boys in the Midwest and how one  Halloween they and a mysterious man named Carapace Clavicle Moundshroud move through time and space to see how Halloween came to be as we celebrate it. Or other things that feed into how we feel about death and creepy things. Like Samhaim in ancient Ireland, Dias de Los Muertos in a small Mexican village, and (my personal favorite) the building of the Notre Dame cathedral in Paris and just how did all of those creepy gargoyles get up there anyway? The titular Halloween tree is a huge tree in from of Mr Moundshrouds' creepy mansion in a ravine (because of course). When the boys stumble across it the tree has hundreds of jack o lantenrs filled with candles hanging from it's branches that all suddenly light of their own accord (awesome! scary!) 

Ray lived for most of his life in Southern California (though he is a Midwestern boy by birth, hence a lot of his story settings in the Midwest) and became friends with a man named Walt Disney. Two people with very active imaginations, I can only imagine what some of those conversations sounded like to an outsider! Ray was especially involved in Epcot in California. (I think he even wrote the narrative that plays when you go on the ride through the golf ball looking thing, but don't quote me on that).

Walt honored Ray and his friendships and contributions to the Disney "vision" by naming a tree in his park "The Halloween Tree" and every Halloween it's decorated with hundreds of jack o lanterns in it's branches. There's even a plaque! I imagine thousands of people walk by it every fall not knowing that it's Ray's tree. I found out about it on accident while scrolling through Pinterest looking for activities for when Quinn and I were at Disneyland (that post coming soon). I decided I MUST FIND THIS TREE. Luckily, one of my cousins works for Disney and was able to find the tree for me so I could take pictures with it. It was kind of dreary and spooky with none of it's leaves and no longer decorated for Halloween and I thought it was perfect.

Thanks Quinn for the tree photo shoot!


Thursday, November 3, 2016

Friday Four - Four Favorite Sci-Fi Shows

(Will be traveling for a chunk of Friday, so you get this a day early!) And I'm so happy to be able to tie this one in to SciFi November!

I can appreciate that science fiction means something different to everybody and so what I consider science fiction might not be what you consider science fiction. so based on my understanding of what science fiction is, here are my favorite.


Oh man, I loved me some Fringe. Unexplained occurrences + Homeland Security + Parallel Universe = Fringe. The character John Noble played was hilarious and brilliant and infuriating and annoying and sympathetic. Also for those Dawson's Creek (or Skulls) fans out there...Joshua Jackson.



There were times that Lost INFURIATED me, but I always came back to it. It's one of the very few shows that I watched from day one all the way to the bitter bitter end. I even did a book series about it here on the blog! Time travel, unexplained polar bears, mysterious wheels, utopian fantasies, etc etc Lost is about literally all the things. There's not enough time.


Penny Dreadful

The fact that this show was only on for 3 seasons was basically a crime against humanity. The cast of this show were outstanding Eva Green, Rory Kinnear, Timothy Dalton, and (perhaps most surprisingly of all) Josh Hartnett. There is some intense violence and some weird sex stuff in this show. Also, I was terrified watching it sometimes. (There was demony stuff. And I don't watch the demony stuff. But for this I watched between my fingers.) But also surprisingly funny occasionally. I MUST love any show that brings characters from classic literature to life. I'm contractually obligated by my Maker. And even if I wasn't I'd still love the life out of this show. 

(Though, one thing. I know Timothy Dalton has been in a LOT of stuff *cough* James Bond but the first role that popped into my head whenever I hear him talk is when he voiced the hedgehog in Toy Story 3. So his character will be like, killing people left and right in PD and in my head all I can see is a hedgehog in liederhosen asking "Are you classically trained?" And then I laugh and laugh and laugh)


Anywhere with you hedgehog.

Warehouse 13

This show got a little dumb towards the end but the creativity and interesting scenarios kept me hooked.(Also, one of the characters was a recovering alcoholic and this was never joked about or made light of and was treated with respect and the realities of a person in such a situation. So, go you!)  The series revolves around secret government agents who have to collect dangerous objects that harm people and safely store them in Warehouse 13. Such items could be - W. C. Fields' juggling balls that induce drunkenness and blackouts or Ivan Pavlov's Bell, which will call any dog to you but causes excessive drooling for 24 hours. So it's about the agents misadventures and the interesting objects and it was just kind of good clean, unproblematic fun.

Though no good GIFS to be had. Bummer.

Who else has sci-fi tv show favorites?

Saturday, October 29, 2016

My apologies

You guys, I've been so far behind on the blog and I am sad about it. Work has been exciting and busy and when I get home I'm usually so knackered I usually just want to sit on the couch with the dog and Josh and not do anything. I miss doing the blog stuff. But I will be getting better soon because November brings Sci-Fi November!, which is an event I thoroughly enjoy being a part of. Maybe that's just the thing I need to get my blog grove back on.

So let's just play real fast catch up on some things. Shall we?

Readathon didn't quite go as planned. Josh had a ton of essays that he needed to get corrected and he was feeling a little overwhelmed by the sheer volume of it. I told him I'd help him to correct a few, but that turned into a few hours of helping. So while it wasn't reading books per se, there was a lot of reading going on! Though I did manage to do a smidge of cheering and hung out on twitter a little bit. I was sad that it didn't go according to my plan, but I figure it's better to not have a cranky ass husband. (And also I made him buy me leggings and fro yo for my help. I was not going to give up readathon time for nothing, yo.)

I'm in the middle of two really interesting books right now and I can't wait to share them with you! I went and saw Miss Peregrine's pretty soon after it came out (with frequent LE guest contributer Jen) and there will be a review forthcoming. Which kind of fits for Sci-Fi November, so yay!

I'm really excited for this upcoming week because a)this past week at work was really busy and I felt like I dropped the ball a few times and that's a feeling I hate so I'm excited to put that behind me and WAY MORE IMPORTANTLY b) Quinn and I are going to Disneyland on Friday!

We have cousins in Southern California and one works for Disney and we're like "how have we never gone out there and done Disney with them?" So as an excuse, we're going for my upcoming birthday. It's will just be from Friday to Sunday and will include getting up at like, 4am on Friday morning to catch our flight but we are super excited.

Did you know that Ray Bradbury has a history with Disneyland? He does. There's even a "Halloween Tree" that is based on his same-named short story that I love with a deep and burning love. I re-read it every fall. Here's a little summary of his tree! Even though we will be there past Halloween I'm hoping I will still be able to find the tree itself. Stay tuned!

Anyway, I've missed you guys but I'm going to work hard at getting better at my balance. But there is much sci-fi talk and Disney pictures in the future!

Friday, October 21, 2016

Dewey's 24 Hour Readathon Warm Up!

A 24 hour readathon is on the docket for me and several several others this Saturday. It is a joyous ocassion that I look forward to when it rolls around! I wrote a warm up post this year which you can find here!

On Monday I will recap what and how much I read and how many terrible for me, but delicious snacks I consumed. It's the readathon way!


Friday, October 14, 2016

Bookish ranT: "California" by Edan Lepucki - Spoilery

California is about a couple who realize that living in LA while the world goes to pieces is not a great idea, so they move to the wilderness and live there. I was thinking "Oh this sounds kind of like "Dog Stars" and I liked that book, I will give it a shot.I was excited to start read this book, but eventually the unbelieavability of parts of it lead to me liking it less and less.


-She doesn't get her period and assumes she's pregnant. Really? You're sure it's because you're pregnant and not because, like, you haven't gotten all of the calories and vitamins and whatever you've needed in the time you've lived in the wilderness and maybe your period is just peacing out? Really?

- Then she's like "oh I really hope I'm pregnant" but then takes a Valium that August offers her. I'm no medical expert but taking a powerful drug while pregnant can't be great for that  baby. And you know where a sucky place to live and have a hard labor or a baby that needs extra medical attention would be? The wilderness. (This part isn't unbelievable as much as like woooooow, no.)

-No people show up to try to acost them and take their supplies? You really only run into friendly folks? Because it's not like the same apocilyptic happenings that drove you out of the city wouldn't drive others and they might not be morally superior as these two decide they are? They try to kind of explain this one away but I'm not buying it.

- I would have been insanely angry with Micah. Like I'd eventually just be happy that he was alive but I'd be livid for at least 2 weeks.

-The turkey baster. Weird.

So, I guess I'm really just irritated to have it be so much potential and then it be squandered.

Anyone else read this one?


Wednesday, October 12, 2016

3rd year anniversary!

I realized last night that this is my 3 year blogiversary. 


So nothing big and showy this year, just a thank you for everyone who takes time out of their day to stop by this little piece of the book world to see what I have to say. It is a humbling and lovely thing.Especially when a couple of time as of late my posting has been inconsistent and absences often have no explanation.

Though the short explanation is:

If I have to decide between playing tug or petting this sweet little lady or going upstairs to write a blogpost, usually she wins. Though one of these days when she stop shedding her summer coat I will sneak her upstairs so we can snuggle AND I can write.

 I feel so lucky and blessed to be associated with a group of book people and book blogger people. I say it all the time but I think people who love books are the best kind of people. A wonderful group, the lot of ya.

Here's to more years of book reviews, goofy lists and silly GIFs.

My Love to all. -W


Monday, October 10, 2016

Savoring a series or the "last Christmas present" scenario

This weekend I finally snuggled up to a book that had been on my TBR for a little bit. I was incredibly excited to read it, but I had let it languish on my TBR for a few extra months. Why? It's my "last Christmas present" coping mechanism.

I don't generally like detective novels, or open ended series', but I make an exception for Phillip Kerr's Bernie Gunther novels. Hard scrabble, bitter, but a little sentimental and soft Bernie Gunther is the policeman/hotel detective/Soviet POW/forced Nazi collaborator/man who has seen some sh*t that we all deserve. There are 11 books so far and now I have read them all.


Some of the covers are so baller and awesome but this one is bad. The lady face picture is way too big and I hate it when the name of the author is bigger than the title name. Hate. 

So even though I was excited about this novel I didn't read it right away. Hence, the last Christmas present.

Every Christmas when my sister and I were little we would ask our parents to tell us when we were opening our last Christmas present. That way we could take the time to really savor it. (Not that we were the type of kids who got mountains of presents and ripped through them all in 10 seconds, because we were not). So when I really like I character like Bernie, who I've spent a lot of time with, I try to savor each book and make it last because I never know when or if I will get to see him again.

However, when I got to the end of the book and read through the footnotes I saw this glorious phrase: "Bernie Gunther will be back in Prussian Blue coming out in 2017."

Turns out there's another present under the tree for this girl.

Does anyone else do this or am I weird?